Alameda County planned to hire 1,400 ex-offenders, but was hindered by a number of complex problems, reports the Bay Area News Group.
Alameda County supervisors in June 2016 unanimously approved the Re-Entry Hiring Initiative to provide job coaching, court advocacy and training for county managers who would supervise formerly incarcerated participants, said the article.
“We have been working very diligently on this for the entire year,” said Kathy Mount, Alameda County’s interim director of human resources. “This is a Herculean task. This is a very difficult population to place.”
Formerly incarcerated Kalima Hanible, from Oakland, was fired from a construction job after the company found out about his criminal background.
“They said they don’t hire felons,” Hanible said. “The company didn’t have liability insurance to cover him,” noted the article.
The problem of employing 1,400 ex-offenders, as mentioned, is not a simple one. Most jobs are not entry-level positions, meaning that they have a low turnover rate.
“There seems to be a disconnect between county staff,” said Danielle Mahones, a coordinator with Alameda Justice Reinvestment Coalition. “There are plenty of folks in the population ready to work today … they are assuming they can’t do anything.”
Adding to the problem, the county employment has strict civil service demands and most jobs may be labor-affiliated with a union.
One in four has a criminal record in Alameda County, and the county has a vital need for ex-offender employment.
Many of Hanible’s “friends from North Oakland have drug-related rap sheets and have trouble finding work,” reported the article. “They need jobs to support their families, and they are willing to work,” Hanible said.
“I think I’ll get a job because of my grade point average,” Hanible said. He has a 3.8 GPA studying accounting at Laney College, according to the article.
Criminal histories are no longer asked about by the county until after a conditional job offer is extended. If a felony is revealed at that point, it doesn’t automatically disqualify the person; the county then determines if the crime affects that person’s ability to do the job.
The county is also working to find jobs through its contractors and other public and private employers throughout the area, noted the article.